With both Japanese and Russian influences taking turns to leave their marks on its history, Harbin is one of Manchuria's most important cities. A totally unique place, that can be completely covered in a pristine white coat during the winter months, has earned its nickname of "city of ice".
As the starting point of the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway, the Russian architecture of many of the buildings in Harbin's city center is surprising, like the Orthodox church of Saint Sophia or the houses in the Daoliqu district, not to mention the Jewish Quarter.
The architecture of this city makes an impression, contrasting as it does with more traditional buildings such as the Temple of Bliss and its typically Chinese purple decoration. Even greater contrast is evident when you find yourself at the foot of the Pagoda, with its seven floors, inside the temple ... a trip to Harbin would not be complete without a visit to the moving Unit 731 museum, providing an amazing historical spectacle of this region during the presence of the Japanese. Extraordinary in its simplicity and in the power of the emotion transmitted through the damaged walls of the buildings, a visit to this museum is also culturally enriching.
Harbin is not just a memorial city; it is also a worthy ambassador of the Chinese passion for spectacular artistic performances. A passion that is embodied most notably by the ice and snow festival and its monumental sculptures that are renowned worldwide. From the ice castle to the giant igloo, the competitors pit their precision to create the most beautiful piece. Harbin is one of those cities that has managed to take a rugged environment to a new level, the best example of which is undoubtedly the Siberian Tiger Park. As the largest tiger park in the world, this Manchurian institution is mainly dedicated to the preservation of this magnificent cornerstone of Chinese culture. It's impossible not to be moved by the wild beauty of these strong, orange and white big cats. No more so than at feeding time, when staff feed them with live poultry. Guaranteed excitement!